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News Release: U of M’s Northrop Concerts and Lectures to administer McKnight Dance, Choreography Fellowships

Minneapolis, August 25, 2011 - The McKnight Foundation's Artist Fellowships for Dancers and Choreographers will be administered by U of M's Northrop Concerts and Lectures.

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The McKnight Foundation announces that the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Dancers and for Choreographers will now be managed by Northrop Concerts and Lectures at the University of Minnesota. McKnight annually awards three artist fellowships of $25,000 each to Minnesota dancers, and three fellowships of $25,000 each to choreographers; Northrop will also introduce a new international residency, funding one choreographer each year to collaborate with Twin Cities dance artists and showcase works-in-progress.

During McKnight's search for a permanent program home this year, artist-service organization Springboard for the Arts agreed to provide interim administration. "We are grateful for Springboard's partnership on the 2011 fellowships," says McKnight's president Kate Wolford, "and all parties are delighted with this move to a permanent home. Northrop Concerts and Lectures' reputation, relationships, and generous approach to service and creative programming make it a uniquely natural fit for the McKnight Fellowships for Dancers and Choreographers." Under director Ben Johnson's leadership, Northrop Concerts and Lectures regularly makes use of a wealth of connections and relationships with artists, presenters, and producers working both locally and globally, all of which benefit Minnesota's arts community.

In addition to the monetary awards, each dancer fellow also has an opportunity to commission one showcase solo. Although showcases are not planned for Northrop's main stage, which is closed for remodeling, Johnson is interested in experimenting with offsite presenting and partnerships. With a shared interest in such community collaborations, McKnight and Northrop are working to determine the best opportunities to support all the choreographers and dancers.

"Creating new models to support, sustain, and inspire Minnesota-based artists is a top priority for us," explains Johnson, "and the McKnight residencies fit perfectly into the vision of how Northrop Concerts and Lectures wants to engage the local dance community at the highest level. We plan to work with each artist to expand their possibilities in the creation and presentation of new work and promote them on a national and international platform. We also endeavor to support them in deeply meaningful ways in our community and state, by connecting them to the intellectual resources of the University and to a broader range of community partners."
Johnson emphasizes that his team is also thrilled about the new McKnight International Choreographer Fellowship: "Focusing on emerging and mid-career choreographers from other countries, we want to build bridges and connections for our local dance community through this unique international exchange. We are currently looking at artists from Paris, Rio, Tokyo, and Montreal to pilot this initiative. It is an ideal way to keep our artists engaged in global aesthetics, cultural shifts in dance, and creative movements in other countries."

The 2012 fellowship application process will be announced by the end of October, and posted online at (Springboard for the Arts announced the 2011 dancer and choreographer fellows in June.) Fellows will be selected by a national panel of dance professionals, including artists and curators. Throughout the McKnight Artist Fellowship program, The McKnight Foundation sets broad funding parameters and works with each administering site to appropriately tailor its own guidelines and processes.

While administered by Northrop Concerts and Lectures, all program funding will be channeled through the University of Minnesota Foundation, which manages more than a billion dollars in private funding for programs, scholarships, faculty, and research. Wolford notes, "We are fortunate that Northrop Concerts and Lectures also offers powerful connections to the vast intellectual and creative resources of the University of Minnesota, an added benefit for the program and our artist fellows."

The McKnight Artist Fellowships were created in 1981 to help artists set aside time for study, reflection, experimentation, and exploration; take advantage of opportunities; and work on new projects. McKnight contributes just over $1 million per year to individual artists through the 12 fellowship programs. The Foundation delegates management of the fellowships to arts organizations that tailor programs to the unique challenges of different creative disciplines. Interested artists should contact the appropriate administering organization for further information about potential funding:

The McKnight Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through grantmaking, coalition-building, and encouragement of strategic policy reform. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Minnesota-based foundation had assets of approximately $1.9 billion and granted about $96 million in 2010; of this total, about $8.7 million was directed to support an environment in which artists are valued leaders in our community, with access to the resources and opportunities they need to succeed.


Northrop Concerts and Lectures is the performing arts presenting organization for the University of Minnesota. Northrop Concerts and Lectures is dedicated to the advancement of the education, research, public engagement, and diversity mission of the University of Minnesota through the pursuit of excellence and innovation in the performing arts, community service and creative exchange. Northrop Concerts and Lectures is also committed to civic engagement and community discourse with the values of partnership and collaboration, committed to bridging the intellectual and artistic life of the University with the goals and issues of the local community, the nation, and the world.

Media contacts
Tim Hanrahan, The McKnight Foundation, 612-333-4220,
Cari Hatcher, Northrop Concerts and Lectures, 612-625-6003,

Related links
Northrop Concerts and Lectures